finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Monday, August 25, 2014

New York. Again. One more time

I am feeling melancholy.

I am back in New York to finish things. (Although I wonder if one ever "finishes things" with New York City.)

I am back in town for ten days to pack/clean/socialize/experience and, well...finish. I have more or less officially moved to Chicago. My things are there. My work is there. My cat is there. So I must live there.

And New York? Well, New York is seemingly my past. But yesterday, today and for the next nine days, it is my present. And in it, I find myself nostalgic and torn, content and discontent, assaulted and embraced, inspired and annoyed. New York. It's everything.

A friend said, "New York never changes" And this has given me pause. It feels like it indeed did change. Or I did. I'm not sure which. New York still offers all it did: a dizzying array of everything. This is what I love about New York. Anything is possible: opening an improv school, creating your own work, traveling to the middle east as a playwright on commission, working as an actual paralegal, falling in love with a refugee, selling Iraqi art, dinner at 4am, summer in the Hamptons, unlimited mimosa brunch, discovering Time Warner cable is your mortal enemy, Times Square blackouts, Broadway auditions, ludicrously asking Ludicrous for water, sitting in the jury of "Law and Order", overshadowing Sarah Jessica Parker, pizza for a buck, cocktails for 22, an A train teen acrobat show for less (It's showtime!!), homeless man poetry readings, cheap mani/pedis, meeting soon to be friends from all over the world...literally. It's all here. It's all still here.

And yet, it feels different.

Maybe I need more space or more quiet or more family or more work or less options or less stimulation or less concrete or less isolation. I don't know yet. I could stay here forever. Easily. But I never wanted to. After ten it time to leap into the next?

Seems I already have. I think I'm done.

They say "New York will always be here if you want to come back." But people really don't, do they? Or I won't. Probably. Sure, New York will always be here, but it's not the same. Once you leave, it's not the same; you're no longer in the club.

As a committed liver and lover of New York, you are part of a club. It's unwritten, but we all know we belong. We have all agreed to put up with the crowds and the crazy and the rats and the garbage and the noise and the urine and the tourists and the tight otherwise-impossible-to-live-in-spaces in exchange for...everything. And when you agree to leave that, you become merely an outsider looking in; no longer a member of the club --- just another observer slash admirer of New York --- from the outside.

But today, I am in the middle.  Not in or out. Still here, almost gone. But still a card carrying member.

I am standing on the precipice between old and new, past and future, New York and non-New York. I made the choice. Or New York did. I'm not sure which.

But it's over New York. Damn.

Don't get me wrong: Like any old, hard-to-get-over love--- I will always long for you, I will always dream of you. I will always...wonder.

But I will no longer live here. With you. Like this.

In other's finished.

...with love and gratitude.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

4.2 seconds

I wrote a blog a while back about living in each moment and "being open to moments with strangers" to see how it affects your day to day life. Well, I began to question how often I do that. So I've been experimenting.

I've been spending a little more time with my bus drivers, my receptionists, my baristas. I have been taking a little more time and engaging with them on some level, and it's paying off in some weird way. It's hard to say specifically how, but I actually feel more engaged and active as  a player or contributor in my life. I'm finding little things happening --- smiles, advice, free stuff. Yes, even free stuff! Engaging with people on a personal level gets you free stuff!!! And it only takes a real smile and about 4. 2 more seconds of your life.

My mom is queen of this. She talks to everyone! Engages with everyone! She asks how their day is going, calls them by their name, embarrassing me endlessly along the way, but maybe she has something. People engage back with her and quickly become little mini-friends. I like this idea --- mini-friendships! And all it takes is awareness and kindness.

When I practice this philosophy, I feel as if I am living more honestly and creating more meaningful interactions with strangers. It makes life less about getting from point A to point B and more about the HOW and WHO. It's more about the proverbial journey. It's like treating people as new immediate little friends, not strangers, not just necessary steps towards something.

Blogger Matt Ramos writes on Tiny Buddha: "It’s an empowering mindset to be able to create conversation with potentially anyone...Through my experiences, I learned that people are usually friendly and happy to talk to you." Indeed. It's these moments that fill out our day to day lives and create potential and connection and ultimately satisfaction.

Actress Shirley MacLaine says "Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends."

So, today, maybe give up the fear, or the hurry or the attitude and be more like my mom. Engage with someone with whom you made eye contact or with whom you are having a transaction with. Be present with a smile or eye contact or a simple greeting. Be ready and generous with your full self and see what happens.